It’s become a big game to see who has the guts to destroy the goat. And most people in Gävle think it’s kind of fun to bet on when the goat is going to burn down. Some even bet money on it, through betting websites. Rumour has it that those who burn the goat down are heavy betters!
Most people are disappointed on the rare years the goat doesn’t burn
. There are sayings here about the Gävle goat: “You know it’s Christmas when the goat has burnt down” and “If the goat doesn’t burn, Santa will give all his presents to Finland.”
Personally, I think the people who build it must secretly want it to burn down. There’s a tiny little fence around it that anyone can climb over. Sometimes, people volunteer to guard it, but even then, others find ways to burn it down – one year, someone shot a flaming arrow at it.
“If people stopped burning the goat, nobody would care
that much about it”
This year, two young men who claimed they burnt the goat got tattoos of the goat and the date it burnt on their ankles, then posted photos of their tattoos on a web forum thread
dedicated to the goat. The police told the Swedish press that while this was certainly suspicious, it was not enough to prove guilt.
People who burn down the goat rarely get caught. One time, an American tourist
was arrested after setting it on fire and given a big fine, but he went back to the United States and never paid it.
My opinion is that this is a fun tradition, and it’s good publicity for the city. If people stopped burning it, nobody would care that much about it.